The gentrification and apartheid of children’s literature are concepts I mull over often. My third graders are currently working on Compare and Contrast Essays, using Christopher Myer’s Wings, and Lesa Cline-Ransome’s Before There Was Mozart. So this article is close to my heart as well as my profession. The link above takes you to his article, featured in today’s New York Times.
February 4 – Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George by Lesa Cline – Ransome. Illustrated by James E. Ransome.
Genre: Non-Fiction. Biography
Biography: Joseph Boulogne – knight (chevalier), fencer, composer, violinist, royal music instructor, Colonel in French Revolution, abolitionist. 1739 – 1799.
Historical Time Period: Mid-late 1700’s.
Geographical Relevance: 1. Guadeloupe Islands in the West Indies. 2. Paris, France. 3. Senegal.
Authenticity: The author, Lesa Cline-Ransome, and the illustrator, James E. Ransome, are wife and husband. Lesa was an avid writer while attending the Pratt Institute in New York, a professional marketing-writer, and developed a love of picture books during her graduate program in Education. Her husband first encouraged her to put her skills and knowledge into picture book form, and from there she would research the history of her subjects while her young children napped. James’ illustrations, also researched, make for a complete story. What is rare and wonderful to see, in major publishing houses, is the author and illustrator creating the book together. Ideas are in agreement – facilitating the book’s authenticity.
I hadn’t heard of this book, or the author, before I saw it in the window of The Book Rack in Arlington, MA., a little over a month ago. This book is rare in quality. The story is unique and has many layers: A boy, who’s mother was a first-generation slave captured from Senegal, yet was never a slave himself, because his father, the plantation Master, honored his son as his son. The father also acknowledged the mother. Joseph continually experienced both oppression and privilege throughout his life, making for a very dynamic position and perspective in the world. I recommend this book for all ages, although grade K2 and grade 1 will need some mindful scaffolding beforehand.
Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.
Week of November 18-22.
We had a field trip to the Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday. One of our activities was to paint a mural on recycled paper, using bits of nature to paint our strokes rather than bristled brushes. There was a book on a bench. So I read it to the children while they created our mural. The book was The Color Box by Dayle Ann Dodds. Illustrated by Giles Laroche.
Eboné tale, The Girl Who Spun Gold by Virginia Hamilton. Illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon. The children asked if we could act out this story sometime. So I’ll have to fit it into the curriculum at some point, to appease the budding actors.
The Science teacher read the students a story, but I don’t know which one. Though, I’m sure it was awesome because our Science teacher is pretty awesome.
Thursday and Friday
Eboné tale, Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life by Jerdine Nolen. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
We’ve begun creating miniature furniture for Hewitt, in the classroom. The kids have begun learning to sew as well. Thus far, the protagonist, Hewitt, has three hand-sewn pillows to rest his petite head on beds of plastic crate pieces and feathers. Photos to come.
In the Listening Center
I picked up Nikki Giovanni’s Hip Hop Speaks to Children book & CD, for a steal at Rodney’s Used Bookstore in Cambridge.